The death knell for Intuit’s QuickBooks Desktop has been sounded before, perhaps not as loudly as recent news would indicate. So, what does it mean?
For those that haven’t seen, or heard, here’s the official notice. On Thursday Nov. 30, 2023 Intuit posted this notice on its Firm of the Future product update page and issued similar personal notices to ProAdvisors:
QuickBooks Desktop is planning to stop selling several products to U.S. new subscribers after July 31, 2024. Here are some top questions you may have regarding this change.
Intuit has made a decision that after July 31, 2024, we will no longer sell new subscriptions of the following products:
- QuickBooks Desktop Pro Plus
- QuickBooks Desktop Premier Plus
- QuickBooks Desktop Mac Plus
- QuickBooks Desktop Enhanced Payroll
Existing subscribers are not impacted by this change. Existing QuickBooks Desktop Plus and Desktop Payroll subscribers can continue to renew their subscriptions after July 31, 2024.* We will continue to provide security updates, product updates, and support for existing subscribers.
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise products are also not impacted by this change, and customers can continue to purchase Enterprise subscriptions after July 31, 2024.
Before I begin, I would like to point out that these views are my own and do not constitute any measure of journalistic reporting or research. They contain only my opinions and viewpoints based on my experience in this field.
So, over my years of covering Intuit and accounting technology in general, the company has announced discontinued support for certain versions of its desktop product. Par for the course for desktop products, in general. But this latest news, by my calculations, appears to be the first real indication the company may finally be moving on from desktop in its largest market.
Make no mistake, QB Desktop is still widely used and fairly well supported by the ProAdvisor community and managed services companies alike. As long as clients prefer it, despite all the marketing and education that goes into trying to transition the market to QuickBooks Online, desktop has a tight grip, more than people may think and on older versions of the product too.
And herein lies the rub. Even with this announcement, which make no mistake, is pretty big coming from Intuit, the true end to QuickBooks Desktop is still quite a ways off. And this, dear readers brings me to a point I’ve made for many years now: Intuit is its own biggest competitor.
QuickBooks Online was a product Intuit had since the early 2000s and, up into the early 2010s, growth was fairly slow. Since around 2011, when then president Brad Smith and co-founder Scott Cook publicly announced (like many software execs at the time) they were going “all in” on cloud, Intuit pushed hard to transition the accounting world at large from desktop to QBO, all the while continuing desktop support and creating and selling new versions of the flagship product.
Even today, in 2023, over 20 years since QBO was put into play for accountants and small businesses, Intuit and its ProAdvisors are still in the business of transitioning desktop users and may be for some time to come. This is at the core of my statement about them being their own biggest competitor. Not Sage. Not Xero, not any accounting and financial cloud product maker on the market today.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Intuit still has a lot of support in the accounting and small business community and it has made some smart and strategic acquisitions over the years. But one of its biggest shortfalls, in my view, is in having its online product share the same name as its desktop product.
The main problem here, and has been for many years now, is expectation. When you have a product as ubiquitous to accounting and small business as QuickBooks Desktop was (and I’d say still is), giving a brand new (at the time) product the same name as an on-premises product sets the expectation that it is indeed that product, but in a different environment (in this case, cloud).
But as many accountants and small business users know, QBO is not Desktop, nor will it ever be. It is QBO and not a feature-for-feature, function-by-function version of its on-premises, older sibling. This is a large reason (not the only one) why after over a dozen years and millions(billions?) of dollars in resources, even a dedicated live annual event for the QBO brand, it has not fully replaced QB Desktop and ProAdvisors continue to struggle to transition clients to it.
Make no mistake, QBO has a very strong market share(claiming 6.5 million global users) with its largest market still in the US and larger than any of its would-be competitors. But as long as support and sales of the desktop product continue, it will, as I stated, remain its own biggest competitor. And in my humble view, I think execs at Intuit know this and have for some time.
So, is this recent news finally the beginning of the end? Perhaps. On a final note, I do recall at a Scaling New Heights conference in 2015 when Jim McGinnis, who then lead Intuit’s Accountant and Advisor Group, swore to a very agitated group of ProAdvisors that Intuit “would always support Desktop.” Maybe nothing is truly forever, especially in technology.